Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Zinnia peruviana, Peruvian Zinnia

Peruvian Zinnia has dark Red or maroon flowers with yellow centers; flower heads are single on tips of stems. Zinnia peruviana Peruvian Zinnia is an annual species that responds well to summer rainfall; it is also called Wild Zinnia; (Spanish: Indita, Zinia). Zinnia peruviana Peruvian Zinnia bracts surrounding the flower heads are roughly oblong in shape as shown here; fruit is a cypsela. Zinnia peruviana Peruvian Zinnia leaves are green; the blades are broadly triangular or broadly lanceolate, note here that the leaves are without a supporting stem and the bases are clasping to the stem; leaf surface is rough. Zinnia peruviana Peruvian Zinnia prefers uplands, rocky slopes and hillsides, ravines, calcareous soils, open sunny areas. Recorded Range: It is rare in the United States where Peruvian Zinnia is native only to southeastern Arizona. Zinnia peruviana

Scientific Name: Zinnia peruviana
Common Name: Peruvian Zinnia

Also Called: Wild Zinnia (Spanish: Indita, Zinia)

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: (Chrysogonum peruvianum, Crassina multiflora, Zinnia multiflora, Zinnia pauciflora)

Status: Native

Duration: Annual

Size: 1 to 2 feet (30-61 cm) or more; 3 feet (91-cm).

Growth Form: Forb/herb; usually a single upright stem; stems green however older stems becoming purplish or yellowish; stems rough, covered with fine, stiff, straight course hairs (strigose).

Leaves: Green; blades broadly triangular or broadly lanceolate, leaves without a supporting stem, bases clasping stem; leaf surface rough (scabrid); leaves opposite along stems.

Flower Color: Dark Red or maroon flowers with yellow centers; flower heads single on tips of stems; floral heads with both ray and disk florets; bracts surrounding flower heads roughly oblong; fruit is a cypsela.

Flowering Season: June or July through October or November; especially abundant following heavy monsoon rainfall.

Elevation: 4,000 to 5,500 feet (1,219-1,676 m).

Habitat Preferences: Southern Arizona uplands, rocky slopes and hillsides, ravines, calcareous soils; open sunny areas.

Recorded Range: Rare in the United States where Peruvian Zinnia is native only to southeastern Arizona. Records of non-native specimens have been recorded in the far southeast United States. This species is also native to Puerto Rico and all of Mexico to South America. Peruvian Zinnia is introduced in Hawaii and the Virgin Islands.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Zinnia peruviana.

U.S. Weed Information: Unknown
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: Unknown
Wetland Indicator: Unknown
Threatened/Endangered Information: Unknown

International Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: 1The Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International, (CABI), and 2The Invasive Species Compendium (ISC) has identified Zinnia peruviana as an “Invasive Species”. Zinnia peruviana was listed in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012) as a naturalized agricultural and environmental weed, casual alien and cultivation escape.

1The Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), Wallingford, Oxfordshire, England; The US Department of Agriculture is a lead partner with CABI.

2The Invasive Species Compendium (ISC) is an encyclopedic resource that brings together a wide range of different types of science-based information to support decision-making in invasive species management worldwide.

Genus Information: In North America there are 4 native species and 1 accepted taxa overall for Zinnia; there are 3 introduced species. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 22 accepted species names and a further 13 scientific names of infraspecific rank for Zinnia.

The genus Zinnia was published in 1759 by Carl Linnaeus, (1707-1778).

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona, Texas and Utah each have 3 species of Zinnia, California and Nevada each have 0 species, New Mexico has 2 species. Data approximate, subject to revision.

Comments: Peruvian Zinnia is a tropical species native southeastern Arizona, the northern limits of its native range in the United States. With more than 100 cultivars, commercially sold Zinnias are among the most popular garden flowers that attract butterflies.

Also see in Southwest Desert Flora: Desert Zinnia, Zinnia acerosa and Rocky Mountain Zinnia, Zinnia grandiflora.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Peruvian Zinnia, Zinnia peruviana has attractive flowers, the flowers and their seeds may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals including rodents and granivorous birds in search of nectar or food.

Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Honey Bees and Insects
Peruvian Zinnia, Zinnia peruviana has attractive flowers, the flowers and their plants may be visited by butterflies, moths, flies, honeybees, Native Bees and other insects in search of food and nectar.

The genus “Zinnia” is from Johann Gottfried Zinn, (1727–1759), a German anatomist and botanist. Mr. Zinn was also a member of the Berlin Academy. It was a botanist, Carl Linnaeus, (1707-1778) who named a genus of flowers in the family Asteraceae, native from Mexico, as “Zinnia” in his honor.

The genus Zinnia was published in 1759 by Carl Linnaeus, (1707-1778).

The species epithet peruviana (peruvia'num:) of or from Peru.


Date Profile Completed: 8/8/2012; updated 01/10/2021
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, as Zinnia multiflora.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search; accessed 01/10/2021.
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet;; accessed 01/07/2021.
Alan R. Smith, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 21 | Asteraceae- Zinnia; 4. Zinnia peruviana (Linnaeus) Linnaeus, Syst. Nat. ed. 10. 2: 1221. 1759.; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
Native Plant Information Network, NPIN. Published on the Internet; accessed 01/10/2021. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
FNA 2006, Kearney and Peebles 1969: S.Buckley, 2010; from SEINet Field Guide, on-line; accessed 01/10/2021.
Michael J. Plagens; Arizonensis; Field Guide; Sonoran Desert Flora; Asteraceae, Peruvian Zinnia - Zinnia peruviana; accessed 01/10/2021.
T. Beth Kinsey, Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and Plants; Zinnia acerosa – Desert Zinnia - accessed 01/10/2021.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Zinnia peruviana', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 December 2020, 01:17 UTC, [accessed 10 January 2021]
Seiler, John, Peterson, John, North American species range map courtesy of Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information.
Etymology:Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed 01/10/2021)
Wikipedia contributors, 'Johann Gottfried Zinn', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 20 October 2019, 17:03 UTC, [accessed 10 January 2021]
IPNI (2020). International Plant Names Index. Published on the Internet, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Harvard University Herbaria & Libraries and Australian National Botanic Gardens. [Retrieved 10 January 2021].